The Competition Council has sanctioned 65 companies and an association with total fines amounting to over 130 million lei (approx. 26 million euros) that allegedly participated in an agreement on the Romanian vehicle maintenance and repair services market.
56 of the sanctioned companies are or were members of the Dacia, Renault and Nissan Dealers Association – ACODAREN and carry out, among other things, car repair activities.
These actions were supported, consolidated and amplified by the behavior and actions carried out by Renault Commercial Roumanie SRL, RCI Broker de Asigurare SRL and the insurance companies, Allianz-Țiriac Asigurări SA, Omniasig Vienna Insurance Group SA, Groupama Asigurări SA, Uniqa Asigurări SA, Asigurarea Românească – Asirom Vienna Insurance Group SA, Euroins România Asigurare – Reasigurare SA, Societatea Asigurare – Reasigurare Astra SA, their participation giving the understanding a greater scope than if it had remained limited only to the coordination of the repairers’ behavior.
Thus, the company Renault Commercial Roumanie SRL and the insurance companies involved were sanctioned with total fines of 120.9 million lei.
The rest of the amount, up to 130 million lei, represents the fines applied to car repairers who took part in the settlement. Competition law prohibits any understandings or agreements between companies that restrict or distort competition on the Romanian market, especially those that divide markets.
The management of Allianz-Țiriac rejects the conclusions of the investigation report of the Competition Council relating to the period 2008 – 2017, which accuses the favoring of certain car repair partners by “enhancing” an agreement between them, the company said.
“Allianz-Țiriac will take all the necessary steps and bring all the legal and economic arguments to prove its innocence. In this case, the conclusions of the investigation regarding the activity of Allianz-Țiriac are not correct and have no foundation.
By the decision of the Plenary of the Competition Council, Allianz-Țiriac is forced to pay a fine of 11 million euros, almost half of the total sanction applied following this investigation, for a non-existent act and for which we have not received evidence, although this was requested in time and time again and even though we brought clear and concrete evidence that contradicted the interpretations in the investigative report. This situation brings an unanticipated, additional and unfair expense and leaves us with the impression that we are talking about a cost that we have to pay periodically to operate in Romania. These conditions of unpredictability affect the trust capital that any fair shareholder invests,” Allianz-Tiriac retorts.
“We are in a situation where it is not clear to us what we should do differently after this investigation. Given the conclusions of the report, we hope that the expectation is not that insurers will abandon the contracts signed with car services, which would mean an inhibition of market behavior and a factor of uncertainty for insured and injured third parties.Although the Competition Council jointly accuses insurance companies of “enhancing” an agreement on the market of repair units, it must be taken into account that the facts are individualized at the level of each insurance company, including the nature and content of commercial contracts being different, and in terms of the behavior Allianz-Țiriac, we are still waiting to find out what concretely we need to change or do differently following the conclusions of the investigation report,” they add.
Allianz-Tiriac also announce they will challenge the fine in court.
“Current legal provisions generally encourage the admission of facts in the case of investigations, even incomplete ones, by offering a generous discount from the initial fine and implicitly lessening the impact on the solvency of the investigated company. The fact that Allianz-Țiriac did not admit a non-existent fault and refused a substantial discount from the Competition Council puts us in the unfair position of paying the highest fine applied in this case. However, our financial robustness allows us not to compromise, absorb the shock and ultimately prove our innocence by challenging the decision in court.”